Grand Duke Jean
Hereditary Grand Duke Jean was born as first son of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and Prince Félix of Bourbon-Parma at Berg Castle, Luxembourg, on 5 January 1921. He has five younger siblings, Princess Elizabeth (1922), Princess Marie-Adelaide (1924-2007), Princess Marie Gabriele (1925), Prince Charles (1927-1977) and Princess Alix (1921).
He completed his primary school in Luxembourg and also started his secondary studies there. He completed his secondary studies at Ampleforth College, a Catholic boarding school in the UK.
On reaching majority in 1939, he was officially styled Hereditary Grand Duke. Later he would receive three honorary doctoral titles: Jean is Doctor Honoris Causa at the university of Strasbourg (22 November 1957), Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (6 May 1979), and Laval University, Quebec (29 May 2007).
The Grand Ducal family fled the country upon the invasion of the German troups on 10 May 1940. They first retreated to France, then to the United States, Canada and the UK. The Hereditary Grand Duke attended courses in Law and Political Science at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada.
The Hereditary Grand Duke joined the Irish Guards in November 1942 and was educated at the Royal Military College of Sandhurst. On 28 July 1943 he was promoted to Lieutenant of the Irish Guards, and in 1944 he became Captain. Jean landed in Normandy 11 June 1944 near Bayeux and served as Liaison Officer to the 32nd Brigade of the Guards Armoured Division. He fought in the Battle of Caen and was among the troops that liberated Brussels on 3 September. On 10 September 1944 he joinded the troops liberating Luxembourg, at the side of his father, Prince Félix. He rejoined his unit on 13 September to partake in the campaigns around Arnhem and Rundstedt, and he assisted to the conquest of the Reichswald, north-east of the Wesel. He continued to fight with the allied troups in Germany until the end of the war.
On 21 August 1984, Grand Duke Jean was nominated Colonel of the Irish Guards Regiment by Queen Elizabeth II, and on 17 March 1995 he became Honorary General of the British Army. As Colonel of the Irish Guards, he often rode in uniform behind Queen Elizabeth II during the Sovereign’s Birthday Parade.
Grand Duke Jean has received the following military decorations:
- Luxembourg Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) with palm
- Luxembourg Croix de la Résistance (Cross of the Resistance)
- French Croix de Guerre
- Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 with palm
- Dutch Commemorative War Cross
- British 1939-1945 Star
- British France and Germany Star
- British Defence Medal
- British War Medal 1939-1945
- American Silver Star Medal
The Hereditary Grand Duke married Princess Josephine-Charlotte of Belgium, only daughter of King Leopold III of Belgium and Queen Astrid, on 9 April 1953. They had five children: Marie Astrid (1954, later Archduchess of Austria), Henri (1955, later Grand Duke of Luxembourg), Jean (1957), Margaretha (1957, later Princess of Liechtenstein) and Guillaume (1963).
Hereditary Grand Duke Jean took an immediate interest in representing his country on various occasions. He became member of the International Olympic Committee in 1946, a function he held until 1998. During this time, he was Chairman of the Rules Reviewing Commission (1973-1976) and member of the Commission of Enquiry for the Winter Games (1968-1969). He also joined the Luxembourg State Council from 1951 until 1961. On 28 April 1961 the was appointed Lieutenant-Representative, which means he took over all functions of the reigning Grand Duchess. On 12 November 1964 he succeeded his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte as Head of State. He was appointed General of the Luxembourg Army that same day.
Grand Duke Jean exercised his duties with the utmost discretion in order not to jeopardize its role as a non-partisan symbol of unity and independence of the state. During his term, Luxembourg developed from an agricultural and industrial country to a modern service provision center. During his early reign, in the late sixties, the first international banks settled in Luxembourg, and east of the city, a large stretch of land was put at the disposal of the institutions of the European Community, whose second capital is indeed Luxembourg.
During his reign, the Grand Duchy celebrated its 150 years of independence and the centenary of the accession of the House of Nassau-Weilburg.
Grand Duke Jean appointed his son, then Hereditary Grand Duke Henri, as Lieutenant-Representative in 1998, and abdicated on 7 October 2000. He was succeeded by his son, Grand Duke Henri. Grand Duke Jean still participates actively in Luxembourg society. He is Honorary President of l’Oeuvre des Pupilles de la Nation, Chief-Scout of the Luxembourg Boy Scouts Association, Honorary President of the Olympic and Sporting Committee of Luxembourg, Honorary Member of the International Olympic Committee, Honorary President of the Veterans of Luxembourg and Honorary President of the Union des mouvements de la Résistance luxembourgeoise (Union of Luxembourg Resistance Movements).
Grand Duke Jean is interested in environmental problems, and the protection of fauna and flora. His hobbies include photography and music. When he was younger, the Grand Duke was also an avid sportsman. He was the patron of many sporting organisations in Luxembourg, and practised riding, fencing, swimming, skiing, and tennis himself.
Grand Duke Jean has received the following orders (among many others):
- 1,293rd Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece of the Austrian Habsburgs
- Papal: Knight of the Order of the Golden Spur
- Poland: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
- Portugal: 379th Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword
- Portugal: Grand Collar in the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator
- Spain: 1,184th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece
- United Kingdom: 951st Knight of the Order of the Garter
Official portrait of Grand Duke Jean in honour of his 90th birthday. ©Vic Fischbach. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Grand Duke Jean in 2006. Image by Schnéckert, released into the public domain.
Based on information from monarchie.lu.